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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Ms S & Ms P from Angola

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

6

Excursions taken

0

Hard core game viewing and excellent service!

Botswana and 1 other country between 22 May 2008 and 3 Jun 2008

Trip rating: Excellent
"This was an outstanding trip.

It is hard to get used to being a regular person again after all the pampering and I must have put on 5 kilos from all the good food at the camps."

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


Image alt

Southern Sun OR Tambo, South Africa (this camp has since closed)

"Southern Sun Jo'burg International review"

1 night Arrived 22 May 2008
"Average airport hotel that is poorly managed. It takes a long time to check in even though there are few people in line. The waitresses at dinner are also scatterbrained, forgetting what was ordered 30 seconds ago, making billing mistakes (in the guest's favor), etc. and the food is mediocre. It's also not easy to understand where to wait for the suttle at the airport which leads to self style guides hassling you to show the way in exchnage for tips.

However, the rooms are standard issue airport hotel, the Internet acess works great, it's quiet despite the proximity to the airport. All in all, not a bad place to stay for a night before ctahcing a flight, though \i refer the Outlook Lodge."
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Poor
Rooms
Average
Food
Poor
Mombo Camp

Mombo Camp

"Mombo Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 23 May 2008
"See my review on Trip Advisor.

[Ed: ... which reads as follows:

I spent 12 days in Botswana and Zambia at the premier Wilderness Safari properties and this was the best in terms of game viewing, spacious accomodation, great food and attentive service.

This is the most expensive camp in Botswana (and Africa) but then you get what you pay for. People book 12-18 months in advance to get into this property and its top rated guides and premium service. This is also the only place to see rhinos (black and white) in Botswana and home of Poster--the top rhino expert in Botswana on these animals who gives a fascinating evening presentation to guests a few times a week.

Main Mombo has 9 guest roooms for 18 guests. Little Mombo has three guest rooms for 6 guests looking for a more initmate experience, small groups or families. (Children have to be at least 12 to stay at Mombo. If children are younger you have to book the whole place and Little Mombo is handy for that.) Both camps have the same food prepared by a fabulous local chef who has trained with the best. expat chefs. Accomodation is in tents on a wooden platform but so spacious you wouldn't know you are in a tent. There is lots of privacy and each room over looks the plains. Hippos and buffalos come right up to the camp so you need to be accompanied to your room by a guide at night! (If you are a light sleeper bring earplugs as the animals and tiny painted reed frogs will serenade you through the night.) There are multiplugs for US, SA and European plugs to charge your cameras, etc. Like most premium camps in Botswana, there is no Internet or telephone as people are here to get away from it all. You can ask to borrow a hairdryer though none are provided in the rooms. There is a nifty little gift shop but their selection of post cards is not so good. Mombo will, however, post your card for free.

Mombo is in a national park and so no game viewing is allowed after 6:30 PM. To compensate for this, you are woken up at 5:30, get a light breakfast at 6 AM and start your game drive at 6:30 until about 11:30 Am. You then get brunch and have the afternoon to relax while the guides do transfers to the airstrip. Tea is served at 4 PM and you then do another game drive from 4:30-6:30. It's pretty intense and tiring so relaxing at a water based camp in the Delta like Jao with less emphasis on game viewing after Mombo is a great idea. This is not a camp you want to arrive at jet lagged (65% of guests are from the US and many come straight off the plane after more than 22 hours of flying!) as it would be a shame to pay all that money and sleep or not feel up to the game viewing. Unless you pay for a private safari, you will be in a land rover with a total of 6 other guests--though they try to reduce this to 4 guests per vehicle and no more than one change of other guests in the vehicle for your stay. (This gives the guides a chance to get to know guests and balance the needs of those who have already seen game from the just arrived who are initially mesmerized by every graceful impala.)

It can get very cool in winter so bring warm clothes if travelling then. (They sell nice fleeces, gloves and hats in the gift shop.) You get a hot water bottle in your bed and even on game drives during the winter months!

I loved this place and recommend it to anyone who can afford it. I will definitely be back. ]"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Jao Camp

Jao Camp

"Jao Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 26 May 2008
"See my comments on Trip Advisor.

[Ed: ... which reads as follows:

I stayed here w. a freind as part of a 12 day safari of Botswana and Zambia's premier Wilderness Safaris Camps.

It's a lovely Italian designed all wooden camp w. an Indonesian feel to it. There is a 1 km long wooden walk way up to 2 meters high in places directly under trees to the rooms making you feel you are in a tree house. The rooms are beautifully appointed and animals come right into the camp (a leopard did when we were there!), so you need to be accompanied to your room at night.

The food is stellar if not quite as excellent as at Mombo. On Monday night they do a buffet around a bonfire with a traditional African dance and sing song put on by the staff. Unlike other premier camps in Botswana, this camp has less Americans and is very cosmopolitan. Service is impeccable but the place can feel a bit snootty. (Unlike at other camps, people spend more time in their rooms or enjoyng the facilities than communally.)

We arrived here from Mombo and had been told there would be less game viewing. It is true that one rarely sees lions here and that on a mokoro you see less game, but oh what a joy to be on the water with just one other person is a boat and be poled through greenery in the early morning or at sunset. We asked especially to do this twice during our 3 night stay we liked it so much!

However, they offer a trip to Hunda Island where the Tubu Tree Camp (in the same concession and under the same management) is with terrific game viewing. The red litchwe and zebras running through the water is stunning. You can get right next to elephants and see crocs. We got stuck in the mud and had to get towed out by another vehicle when our high jack broke. It was so beautiful though that no one complained! At Jao itself we saw a leopard hunting in grass. Some guests come here to fish as well.

There is a great gift shop and a mini spa next to it where you can have various treatments while looking over the peaceful scenery and being sereneded by the bell chime frogs, birds, etc.

Whenever I need to think of a magical, peaceful place, it will be Jao. I can't wait to have some more Jao Therapy! ]"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Kings Pool

Kings Pool

"King's Pool review"

2 nights Arrived 29 May 2008
"See my review on Trip Advisor.

[Ed: which reads as follows:

This is a friendly place run by South Africans who will do their best to ensure you are happy.

The main entrance and dining area has just been redone and doesn't quite work. There is almost no shade--but they are fixing this. However, in the mornings and evenings, the design works well and you dine over looking expansive plains. (It gets v. cold during winter -- they even wrap a blanket on every chair at night and have a fire going!) The rooms are wonderful and have a private plunge pool. The showers are the best I have ever had in Africa. Finally, you could stay on your terrace and watch elephant and hippos go by. Having said that I preferred the look and feel of Mombo and Jao more.

One inconvenience is that there is only one charging point in the room--a European two prong type which is hard to get to. This means if two people want to charge their camera batteries, videos or download photos onto a computer they can't do it simultaneously. (All the other power sources in the rooms require three prong Botswana style plugs.) Management is aware of this and has ordered the same multi-plug charge stations at other premier Wilderness camps for each room, so hopefully this will be fixed soon. (They borrowed one of these stations from another camp for me while I was there to minimize the inconvenience.)

We came to this camp after visiting Mombo and Jao and had been warned that we woud see lots of "broken trees and elephants". While we did see elephants, it was no more than at the other two camps--apart from a glorious 15 minutes at a water hole while en route to the airport at the end of our stay. Also, our gide, while very diligent in explaining things rushed from one animal to another with no time to just watch and see the animals interact and get used to the vehicle.

We did have a full day trip to the Savuti channel which has seen water for the first time in 28 years. This was a great trip but we saw little game as a result of all the rushing around. Also, we had to fit into a slot for lunch at the hippo pool as guests from some of the other camps in the same concession were also using this place. Fitting into a time slot while on a safari doesn't seem quite right and this assembly line feel to safaring and the less good game viewing is one of the main reasons I would not go back here. The rest stops also seemed to be pre-planned and well used--this was the only camp where we saw toilet paper at certain rest stops. (Management obviously needs to do a better job of briefing guests not to leave waste behind.) ]"
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
The River Club

The River Club

"River Club review"

2 nights Arrived 31 May 2008
"See my comments on Trip Advisor.

[Ed: ... which reads as follows:

This proved an excellent way of ending our 10 day safari in Botswana. We spent two blissfully, relaxing night here.

The arrival from Botswana is very special as you take the lodge's small boat down the Zambezi and around a spot where hippos hang out to get to the lodge. (If you arrive from Livingtsone airport, its a 35 minute drive w. 10 minutes across an unsealed road.) After climbing a steep bank of stairs, you arrive in a lovely huge garden with 9 small stone colonial style houses and a large main building (converted farmhouse) where meals are served. You get a briefing and it's tea time at 4 PM. At 4:30 you can join a complementary sunset cruise to see hippos, crocs. and birds. Cocktails are then served a half hour before dinner. The food is excellent and the leisurely breakfasts (7:30 to 10:00 which is bliss after the early morning safari breakfasts!) and light lunches on the lawn wonderful.

You can chose from a menu of activities--some like visiting the falls and a local village are included in the price some others like scenic helicopter flights, bungee jumping or riverboarding are extra.

The rooms are in double decker style small stone houses over looking the Zambezi. You walk into a bedroom with an attached toilet and sink--handy for late night trips to the loo. Down a flight of steps is another toilet, colonial style bathtub and shower. 85% of guests staying here are Americans and management has taken note of their complaints about the lack of a screen on the river facing side of the rooms and fixed this so that bats and bugs don't get in. There is a hairdryer in the room and wireless internet access for $15 per stay in the main house.

The staff work very hard to ensure you have a wonderful stay. Highly recommended. I can also recommend the 30 minute helicopter ride over the falls for super photos and a good feel about what the falls are all about as well as a visit to the Crocodile Farm which is close to the helipad.]"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
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The Grace, South Africa (this camp has since closed)

"Old Style Overpriced Suburban Mall Hotel"

1 night Arrived 2 Jun 2008
"I stayed here for one night at the end of a 12 day safari in Botswana and Zambia. I often pass through Joburg and stay at the Outlook Lodge close to the airport which feels like a safari lodge and costs a fraction of the price of the airport hotels and should have stayed here again,

No one was waiting to pick me up even though I had paid for the transfer. Rather than waiting for 45 minutes or an hour for the hotel to send a car I opted to line up a transfer at the information desk which cost 350 rand (40 minute ride) in a nice car with a courteous driver who also gave me a bit of a guided tour for no extra charge. (This is far less than the posted transfer rates the hotel charges.) The hotel was very apologetic and blamed this on Imperial--their car hire sevice and promptly reimbursed me in exchange for my receipt. However, when I pointed out that I was aware from Internet sites that this was a problem other guests had had, they did admit to having a probem until about 6 months ago but that "now it happens only occassionally".

In my case, on a Monday, when the folks supposed to check on transfers were both out. My transfer back to the airport the next day went well for me, but only because the Guest RelationsManager was there to apologize and make sure things went smoothly. Again, Imperial was late and they had to send a hotel driver (who normally drives guest for free within a short distance from the hotel) in a Mercedes to drive me instead.

The Guest Relations Manager gave me her card to cal when I come again to make sure everyhting is okay the next time, but one shouldn't have to double check this at an establishent that costs as much as this and I don't ever have a problem with the Outlook Lodge's transfer service even though it is a far cheaper place to stay.

(Note: it was very confusing to know who to call and who was resbonsible for the transfer as the voucher said African Caravan was doing the transfer. I gathered from African Caravan when they called to apologize that the hotel was responsible for this but I was not given the telephone number of either of these entities to contact by Expert Africa. Instead, the numbers we were given were for Wilderness Safaris which was there to pick up their guests but knew nothing about me. (Also, the company providing the transfer to the River Club in Zambia was late in picking us up (on a Saturday) and when we called the WS number in Namibia we were given to call "anytime" a message said the offices were cosed, so these numbers were not helpful, which is something Expert Africa might like to address. Maruska did answer her phone and sort out my Joburg transfer issue lickety split when I called her from Joburg though.))

I was offered tea, coffe or juice while I checked in and they had an afternoon tea buffet going in the lobby. I wasn't offered this so don't know if it was for all guests or for one of the conferences they had going. However, they did have a few nibbles and tea and coffee stations on each floor and you do get two complementary bottles of water.

My room was quiet and overlooked a long narrow pool which I was told was heated next to a small terrace where they serve light meals. I wandered over to the mall and decided to take in a movie so ate there rather than in the hotel and can't therefore comment on the food, though the hotel claims their dining room is one of the top ones in Joburg.

The room had free Internet access though you had to ask for this. Apparently they are supposed to give you a voucher with a passcode when you check in but I only found about this in the evening when I got the welcome letter from the manager. (No welcome letter in room upon arrival.) The letter said to call reception if one was not issued with a voucher on arrival and they would send up a voucher. When I called reception I was informed that I shoud have asked for this and was given a bunch of letters over the phone that served as my PW and user ID. Considering the room rates, I believe they should ask a guest if they plan to use the internet and offer them a voucher as a matter of course. I'm sure many guests mistakenly assume they have to pay for this service and plug in their credit card details.

The rooms are fair sized and furnished in an agreeable but masculine dark green and dark wood style. They are clean and comfortable but the shower stall is cramped. A sign in the room warns that because of load shedding power is off from 6-10:00 on M, W and Fridays. I don't know if a generator kicks in then since my stay didn't occur on those days.

All in all, the hotel was fine but overpriced. Thewre are better value places for your money."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Average
Rooms
Good

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